France begins Rafale F4-1 flight trials

Rafale F4 flight trials
Two Rafale F4-1 fighters conduct the first test campaign by flying simulated combat missions
alongside other French fighters.

The Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) of the French Ministry of Defense conducted the first test campaign with Rafale F4-1 standard in Istres, France, under the responsibility of DGA Flight Test Centre, from 26 to 29 April 2021.

The F4 standard, currently under development, will offer the fighter new features such as the helmet viewfinder and the ability to carry the Mica NG missile and the 1000kg AASM bomb. It will also bring the Rafale into the era of collaborative air combat.

During the tests, crews belonging to DGA, French Navy, French Air Force and Dassault Aviation conducted eight complex missions representing 50 sorties. Two Rafales were included in the current development phase of the F4-1 standard which involved simulated combat activities alongside other fighters, as well as air refueling refueling operations. The crews, equipped with SCORPION helmet sights, were able to implement the new collaborative combat capabilities, especially tracking other aircraft in passive mode during formation flights.

This aptitude-for-use (RAU) campaign mobilized several air units from the French Ministry of Armed Forces: 8 Rafales, 2 Mirage 2000s and 2 Alphajets. The tests were also followed by representatives from Dassault Aviation, Thales and MBDA.

The next Rafale F4-1 test campaign will also aim at evaluating the capabilities of this new standard in the field of air-to-surface missions. It will once again be organized by the DGA Flight Test Center with the support of units from the “Charles Monnier” air base 125 in Istres.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Source, Image: French Ministry of Armed Forces

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